How many times have you been asked to apply for a Kohl’s credit card at checkout? Should you apply or politely decline? Our review will help you decide.
Many store cards give you an instant discount if you’re approved, and the Kohl’s card does, too. You get 25 percen toff your first day’s Kohl’s purchases and then another 15 percent discount when your card arrives in the mail. If you’re looking for a steady rewards structure, though, the Kohl’s card may leave you disappointed.
There are coupons given to Kohl’s charge card holders (according to the application site, those coupons are worth 15 percent to 30 percent off, and you’ll get them at least 12 times per year — at least 18 times a year after you spend $600 on your Kohl’s card). Sure, it can be helpful to have an account so they give you those, but as far as using the card for your purchases, why bother? If you’re getting the coupons just for having the account open, there’s no reason to actually use your card more.
Instead, this is a recommended alternative for frequent Kohl’s shoppers:
- Have a Kohl’s credit card account open so you receive the coupons. But don’t use the card to pay for your purchases.
- Use an American Express Blue Cash card because it earns high cash back at the following select U.S. department stores:
- Bon Ton Stores
- Century 21 Department STores
- J.C. Penney
- Lord & Taylor
- Neiman Marcus
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Stein Mart
Rewards aside, the biggest reason people fill out the application is probably because they want the discount on the first purchase. That is a compelling offer, especially if you have a cart full of clothes. The next-biggest reason may be credit building. If your credit isn’t good enough to qualify for a major bank’s card, store cards like the Kohl’s card can be a good stepping stone if used responsibly.
The interest rate
If you carry a balance – ever – the credit card from Kohl’s is going to hurt. At the time of this review, the APR is 24.24 percent.
To make matters worse, they may give you penalty APR which is even higher – 27.24 percent. According to the Kohl’s cardmember agreement, they may give you this higher rate if you:
- Make a late payment, or
- Make a payment that is returned
So, if you pay on time (but are carrying a balance), you’re paying a high interest rate, and if you pay late you’ll pay an even higher one.
It has very limited utility
Because it’s not a part of a major payment network (like Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover) the Kohl’s card can be used only at Kohl’s department stores. So it serves no use anywhere else. It is what is known as a closed loop store credit card as opposed to a general purpose credit card.
The bottom line
The Kohl’s charge card has a couple valid uses:
- Gaining access to exclusive store discounts and early sales offers. Who doesn’t love coupons? If you’re a regular Kohl’s shopper, they could very well come in handy. Just keep in mind these aren’t always better than the newspaper and online coupons you can get without the credit card.
- Credit building. The minimum credit score needed for a Kohl’s card application to be approved is not public information. Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say that their card is easier to get than a major credit card. So if you have bad credit and are looking to rebuild, getting an account with Kohl’s is one of the steps you can take.
Why we gave it 1 out of 5 stars
|Offers introductory/interest-free financing: This card doesn’t offer any special financing.|
|Ongoing rewards: This card has no ongoing rewards system.|
|Fair interest terms: This card’s standard APR is above the average store card APR (according to CreditCards.com's latest retail card survey).|
|Consumer-friendly incentives: The card promises at least 12 discount coupons per year.|
|Can be used anywhere: This card can be used in-store only, as it’s not co-branded with a major card network.|
This card’s rating was based on our standards for store credit cards. It did not fare well, as its only tangible benefit is that coupons will regularly arrive in the mail. Even so, it may be a good credit-building option and a useful card for frequent Kohl’s shoppers, as it has no annual fee.
This review was written or last updated Dec. 29, 2016